Injuries, 911 Calls, and Intermediate Range: Forensic Evidence in the Death of Trayvon Martin
Much has been said about the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin by community watch activist George Zimmerman. While tight-lipped law enforcement officials kept many of the details of the investigation closely guarded, a media storm of information has led to all sorts of speculation in the case, including concerns about Zimmerman’s prescription medications and whether or not he uttered a racial epithet under his breath during the 911 call. With all of the speculation, few have devoted the time and effort necessary to correctly and accurately reconstruct the events of that evening from a neutral point of view. What really happened when George Zimmerman confronted Trayvon Martin?
To find out, we asked forensic consultant and crime scene expert Michael Knox what the critical evidence issues are in this case. “There are two key questions that must be sorted out,” Knox explains. “We need to know who initiated the physical altercation, and we need to know what was happening in the moments leading up to the shooting.”
According to Knox, forensic science can be used to answer these questions. Knox explains that the injuries suffered by both Zimmerman and Martin, the recordings of the 911 calls, and the other physical and testimonial evidence in the case can be used to determine much of what took place that night. “You’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” says Knox. “You don’t know what the picture is supposed to look like and you don’t have all of the pieces, but your job is to put the pieces you have together in context so that you can see enough of the picture to know what it is.”
Knox fears that much of the media hype surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin has obscured the real picture. “As a crime scene reconstructionist, I’m not an advocate for either party,” Knox explains. “I want to know as much about the case as possible so that I can determine what happened first. Then we can look at why it happened and determine if the charges against Zimmerman are appropriate.”
Knox says that his company, Knox & Associates, LLC, has undertaken the project of reconstructing the case. “There’s so much information available in this case,” Knox says, “that so much of what we need is right there on the Internet. We can use that information and apply it the way we do in all our cases to reconstruct what happened.” According to Knox, the purpose of undertaking such a reconstruction is to help dispel much of the speculation and provide a resource for the public to better understand the case. As it progresses, the reconstruction will be covered here on Crime Scene Journal.
Michael Knox is a forensic consultant and is the owner of Knox & Associates, LLC , a Jacksonville, Florida-based forensic consulting company that specializes in firearms, ballistics, and crime scene reconstruction. He was a police-officer/detective with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for over 15 years having worked in patrol, DUI enforcement, crime scene investigations, and traffic homicide investigations. He was the training coordinator for the agency’s crime scene unit for several years and has provided crime scene training in Peru, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Georgia, and around the United States. He has testified as an expert witness in crime scene reconstruction in state and federal courts in Florida, Alabama, Texas, and Illinois. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Florida and Master of Science degree in forensic science from the University of Florida. He also holds current certification as a crime scene reconstructionist through the International Association for Identification and accreditation as a traffic accident reconstructionist through the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction.